Teale Miller, 2002
Cichlid Room Companion
Tropheus basics


By , 2001. image
Last updated on 01-Feb-2001

Disclaimer: all the information related here is from my personal experience and you must consider that there are many ways to do things and no one way is correct.

I can't seem to find any good books about Tropheus, are there any available?

I have outlined a number of very good books on Tropheus in the Books section of Tropheus Basics. Unfortunately there is only one that I know of that is published in the United States that is dedicated solely to Tropheus, the Cichlid Quarterly Tropheus issue. Hopefully this will change in the future as Tropheus continue to grow in popularity.

My T. duboisi have been scratching on the rocks in their tank and are now very pale and have stopped eating. What is wrong with them?

Your fish likely have contracted bloat, also called Tropheus disease as it affects these fish frequently. Paleness can also be a sign of stress. Watch the affected fish to see if they are being harassed by tankmates or some other factor such as a slamming door vibrating the tank or children slapping the tank repeatedly. Also, check the water parameters, perhaps there has been a sudden change.

My local fish store doesn't carry OSI foods and I would like to feed them to my Tropheus. How can I get them?

You can mail order them from a number of places. Mail Order Pet shop is a good one as they have good prices and will ship internationally as well as domestic. This is a good place to purchase Clout as well. Their homepage is located at Pet Warehouse is another popular one. You can also do a web search for OSI Marine Labs.

How would Tropheus do with Haplochromis types or Aulonocara?

Though this combination has been done in the past successfully, it is not the best of choices. This is for a number of reasons:

They have somewhat different eating habits to attain breeding fitness both Aulonocara and the Haplochromis (Lake Malawi) types do better if the males are near the top of the dominance scale. They will be happier and spawn better without the constant interruptions of the Tropheus flitting around the tank.

Tropheus are much more rambunctious than either of these types and are thus better suited for living with mbuna if you are set on mixing them with Lake Malawi cichlids.

I have had a combination similar to this in the past and every time my [huge] Protomelas steveni "Taiwan" spawned, the largest of my male Tropheus sp. black "Bulu Point"' would dive in and eat all the eggs before the female could swing around to pick them up.

Every time I buy a new batch of baby Tropheus and get them settled in their new home, it seems like they start to bloat and die and I end up losing most if not all of them. Should I treat them on arrival with Clout?

This is a method that many breeders use. However, Clout is a strong medicine so you need to use it with caution. If you have had troubles in the past and want to add an extra level of security to your new group you can do one or two treatments after getting the fish. Generally one should be sufficient to knock out whatever may be starting as a result of the stressful trip from the breeders to your tank. Be sure that you treat after a water change! Never add Clout to dirty water. This is really a judgment call on your part, some do it, some don't.

I have been told not to use Clout because it is a really harsh medicine. Are there any other methods?

Clout® Is a harsh medicine, but then, so is death. Clout is effective which is why I and many other breeders/keepers of Tropheus have enough in their medicine cabinets to last a lifetime. The only other bloat medication I have tried is pure Metronidazole. I have not found it to be effective unless you double the dosage and even then, I lost fish when I used it to treat. Other breeders have reported similar results, but some like it.

I have been sent a number of other treatment recipes that I will list. NOTE: I have not tried these combinations so you can take them or leave them on your own accord. These are directly from emails I have received:

  • 1 grs of Metronidazole and 2 grs of Aqua-Furan (Nifurpirinol) from Aquarium Münster Product, Germany, this one is the same thing that Furanace (I think). Treatment with Furanace in combination with a product called "Multicure"
  • Day 1 Binox at suggested rate, Day 2 25% water change, Day 3 Tetracycline or Maracyn-Two and Hex-A-Mit both at suggested first day dosage.

I have little aquarium snails all over my Tropheus tank. I see them picking at them all the time. Will it hurt them to eat the snails?

I have had this problem also, and I have not seen if affect my Tropheus adversely. It seems to give them something to occupy their crazy little minds with.

It has been my experience that some of the Tropheus sp blacks will not breed as regularly and with as large sized broods as other Tropheus types. Has this been your experience?

I have noticed them to be a bit slower to start spawning and that they are less likely to carry to term their first few times, however my very first brood of Tropheus sp black 'KaiserII' was a batch of 12 fry! More frequently brood sizes are around 6-8 until the fish get some size and experience on them. Some breeders have methods they use to enhance breeding, such as darkening of the tank with appropriate substrate and dimmer or no lights, different light cycles, temperatures, etc.

I have a plecostomus in the tank with my Tropheus and he loves algae disks. However, every time I feed these I seem to have an outbreak of bloat. Any idea why?

Actually, no. I have had the same experience and I can't figure it out. The ingredients are fairly similar to a number of spirulina based flake foods. I just avoid them altogether.

What's the best tank size for Tropheus?

Tropheus do very well in many different setups. I have kept them in every size tank from a 29 Gallon to a 180 Gallon. There are as many ideas on 'correct' Tropheus setups as there are hobbyists who keep them. What I have found is that they do nicely with a sand substrate as they like to pick through the sand in search of tidbits. Plus, you don't have to worry about your females picking up bigger bits of matter when spawning and damaging some of the eggs. A fairly dense population in the tank is a good idea as it disperses aggression among the group. Try to get at least six, a dozen being even better.

Can I keep Tropheus with other African Cichlids?

Sure. There are those who are purists and believe that each species, let alone lake should be kept in their own tank. I disagree. While it is nice to have a tank containing only one species, this is not always practical for everyone. Adding non-Tropheus cichlids to your community can also help bring peace to an aggressive group. Dwarf mbuna such as Pseudotropheus saulosi and P. demasoni, and Labidochromis caeruleus and perlmutt, among others, do very well with Tropheus and make a nice display.

What water chemistry do they require?

Tropheus are pretty durable fish and will tolerate a fairly wide degree of water chemistry. However, if you want them to thrive and breed, it is best to get them as close to lake conditions as you can. You don't need match your water conditions to Lake Tanganyika, just get them reasonably close:

pH 7.8 - 9.4 Hardness should be moderatly hard to rock hard, but is less important than pH Temperature 76 - 78°F is best, much warmer water (82°F and warmer) can be bad for Tropheus, though they are able to cope with water of these temps for short periods of time.

Should I add salt (non-iodized NaCl) to my tank?

You can if it makes you feel better. Salt can help to ward off problems such as Ich and soothe injuries, but really doesn't do much else. Be warned however, that too much salt can be a factor in the contribution of Malawi Bloat, so don't just pour it in thinking that it will help your water chemistry. It is best to get a prepared Tanganyikan Cichlid salt/buffer mix to add to your water.

Can I have just ONE Tropheus with my other African Cichlids?

Yes you can. Though again, this depends on the other fish in the tank and if you are able to adjust the fish's eating habits to compensate for the Tropheus' need for green foods, while taking care not to deprive your other fish of proper nutrition. I have a 100 gallon tank that has only one male Tropheus in it.

I have heard that I should only have one male and a group of females?

This is a matter of opinion. There are very many successful Tropheus breeders who swear by this method. There are also just as many who like a 40:60 or 50:50 ratio. I am one of the latter. There is more variability, and less aggression in my experience.

When do Tropheus start spawning?

Usually around 2 1/2" or about 8 months to a year.


Miller, Teale. (Feb 01, 2001). "FAQ". Cichlid Room Companion. Retrieved on Dec 10, 2023, from: